(MOBILE, Ala.) — After five days without power in the Gulf of Mexico, the Carnival Triumph cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people arrived in Mobile, Ala., on Thursday to a cheering crowd of friends and family members waiting to embrace their loved ones.
Passengers began to disembark the damaged ship around 10:15 p.m. CT. The last passenger disembarked the ship at 1 a.m. local time, according to Carnival’s Twitter handle.
As the ship docked, passengers lined the decks of the ship, waving and whistling to those on shore.
“Happy V-Day,” read a homemade sign made for the Valentine’s Day arrival. Another, more starkly, read, “The ship’s afloat, so is the sewage.”
Some still aboard chanted, “Let me off, let me off!” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
The Triumph departed Galveston, Texas, last Thursday and lost power on Sunday after a fire in the engine room disabled the vessel’s propulsion system.
After the power went out, passengers texted ABC News that sewage was seeping down the walls from burst plumbing pipes, carpets were wet with urine, and food was in short supply. Reports surfaced of elderly passengers running out of critical heart medicine and others on board squabbling over scarce food.
Passengers said many of the cabins became intolerable with the smell of raw sewage. They were forced to create makeshift beds out of lounge chairs on the ship’s deck.
“We kind of camped out by our lifeboat. We would have nightmares about Titanic basically happening,” passenger Kendall Jenkins told ABC News Radio after disembarking from the ship.
“I am just so blessed to be back home,” she added.
Jenkins was one of many passengers that were photographed kissing the ground when they exited the ship.
Approximately 100 buses were waiting to take passengers on the next stage of their journey. Passengers have the option to take a bus ride to New Orleans or Galveston, Texas, where the ill-fated ship’s voyage began. From there, passengers will take flights home, which Carnival said they would pay for.
Inside the buses, Carnival handed out bags of food that included French fries, chicken nuggets, honey mustard, barbecue sauce and apples.
Carnival president and CEO Gerry Cahill praised the ship’s crew and told reporters that he was headed on board to apologize directly to its passengers shortly before the Carnival Triumph arrived in Mobile.
“I know the conditions on board were very poor,” Cahill said Thursday night. “I know it was very difficult, and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests for that. … Clearly, we failed in this particular case.”
Passengers are being given a full refund for the cruise, transportation expenses and vouchers for another cruise. Carnival Cruise Lines is also giving each person $500. Cahill announced the additional compensation on Wednesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Hope King, CNN
Madison Park, Jason Hanna and Steve Almasy, CNN